Eat an endless parade of succulent meats, salads, sides, and hot dishes at Espetus Churrascaria. With today's Groupon, $20 gets you $40 toward a prix fixe rodizio-style dinner (can't be used toward drinks or dessert) that ensures hunger's defeat at the hands of knife-wielding, meat-serving gauchos. The rodizio dinner costs $49.95, so you'll still need another $9.95 in addition to your $40 Groupon, but that's still 40% off some of the best meats in town.
Weekly samba performances complement authentic Brazilian fare at Canto Do Brasil Restaurant, one of San Francisco's longest-standing Brazilian restaurants and subject of two Check, Please! Bay Area features. To commence meals, chefs can sauté fresh calamari with red wine or grill up a sausage that intimidates foot-long hot dogs with its 16-inch length and muscular entourage of bread. For the main dish, forks can tap dance over the galinha na cerveja, a half chicken marinated in dark beer and Brazilian-style spices; or hide away inside the seafood tropical’s pineapple shell, in which a sauce made with orange, apple, and coconut festoons a medley of seafood. Finally, a selection of Portuguese beers or the signature caipirinha’s mix of sugar, lime, and rum's bad-boy cousin cachaça can wash down meals with authentic South American flavors.
Patrons can pluck their daily serving of fruit from piled-high headdresses on Friday and Saturday nights, when Canto Do Brasil hosts live Carnaval samba performances in a relaxed, festive, and romantic atmostphere. Dancers decked out in feathered plumes and sparkly costumes shimmy and shake their way between rustic wooden chairs and cerulean walls for a beach aesthetic, entertaining customers and competing to see whose headdress can attract the most parrots.
When owners Vanessa and Ron Wilkerson were opening Samba Rock Acai Café, they encountered many roadblocks along the way. For instance, the city assessed there would be a $30,000 traffic-impact fee for their restaurant. So the duo improvised. They built an indoor bike parking area, reducing the fee while still providing customers a place to park their wheels. This is just one example in which Ron has defied what some might see as a career-ending set-back. In 1988, the former professional BMX Freestyle rider fell into a coma after failing to land a no-hander, no-footer trick on his bike. Though some might have given up after a life-threatening experience like that—he suffered short-term memory loss and even forgot some of the BMX tricks that he had pioneered—Ron got back on his bike. And if he hadn’t, he would never have traveled to Sao Paolo, Brazil, met Vanessa, married her, or opened Samba Rock Acai Café.
The menu at Samba Rock Acai Café pays homage to the country where the Wilkersons met and where Vanessa grew up. Blended Brazilian berries and mix-ins, such as bananas and peanut butter, make up the base for their acai bowls. They crown this base with toppings such as fresh fruit, avocado, coconut cream, and granola. Their smoothies also feature acai, as well as organic ingredients, which have never been tainted by spray tanners to look more appealing to customers. To round out their South American-inspired menu, they serve yerba mate—steeped leaves of the mate plant—with acai to sweeten each sip.
Hungry Hunter embellishes plates with congenial cuts of meat and more while enticing diners with its lounge-like atmosphere. The lunch menu encourages patrons to ignite a lazy appetite with the mini slider appetizer, a single shot of bite-sized burger or barbecue pulled pork ($3) or troubleshoot a bland blind date with an appetizer sampler that balances spicy prawns, potato skins, and calamari ($11). The hearty, slow-roasted signature prime rib is massaged with Hungry Hunter's house seasoning blend ($16.50 for an 8 oz.), and the vegetable pasta—with asparagus, english peas, roasted onions, and a chunky tomato sauce—is draped in a dusting of pecorino cheese ($11.50).
"Steak house" is usually shorthand for fine dining that includes steak, but meat is truly the main event at Cleo's Brazilian Steak House. Modeled after a traditional Brazilian rodizio, the eatery spotlights more than 15 rotisserie meats, including sirloins seasoned in garlic or wrapped in bacon. Lamb, pork, chicken, and even grilled pineapple round out the rotisserie selection, which Cleo's team carves right at your table.
The buffet's salad fixings and other sides, such as rice and green beans, can accompany meals, as can beverages ranging from sangria to fresh juices. End Cleo's hearty feasts on a sweet note with desserts such as papaya cream spiked with cassis liqueur, a summertime treat more popular in Brazil than cookies shaped like Pelé.
The epicurean alchemists at Medallion Steakhouse start with organic produce, and grass- and corn-fed beef and chicken raised on local farms and transform them into fine, innovative dishes. Specialists tend the raw oyster bar, where guests sidle up to string necklaces of pearls from varieties such as Fanny Bay, Marin Miyagi, and Kumamoto oysters. With their appetites roused, diners then settle down into oversize booths padded with plush pillows to dig into farm-fresh entrees. Smells of sizzling 14-ounce grass-fed steaks and roasted chicken breasts from Petaluma Farms swirl through the air between the restaurant’s exposed-brick wall hung with red-and-white-framed mirrors. A wall of white birch tree trunks and soft sounds of a waterfall's trickle keep diners comforted as they linger for a forkful of hazelnut dark-chocolate mousse and sips of spirits such as a 20-year-old tawny port and Godiva white-chocolate liqueur.